The Leonardo Business

The Leonardo Business. I stole this phrase from Martin Kemp, who deploys it in Living with Leonardo to describe the industry—the manic, late-capitalist dreamworld—that has attached itself to the concept of Leonardo da Vinci. In 2017, a painting attributed to Leonardo had the dubious honor of becoming “the world’s most expensive painting,” sold at auction…

Ars Longa Journal N. 1 (Winter 2021)

The inaugural issue of Ars Longa Journal is now live! Read it here. This project has been a labor of love for us, and we thank all the contributors, both to the Journal and to the Blog, who trusted us enough to shepherd their work into publication. To 2022!!!

Now & Then: Casta Paintings and Michael Menchaca’s La Raza Cosmica 20XX

Today is el Día de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, and it seems like a good day to highlight Michael Menchaca’s “LA RAZA COSMICA 20XX” suite of prints. Of the inspiration behind these prints, Michael Menchaca writes, “La Raza Cósmica 20XX presents a mythical re-interpretation of Jose Vasconcelos’ mestizo identity theory, La…

A Very Medici Halloween: Lessons on Lewks from the OG Influencers

Are you in need of some fashion #inspo for your Halloween costume?  Are you tired of all those sexy nurse/pirate/Disney princess/hunchback/etc. costumes?  Look no further, because Renaissance Italy’s OG influencers have got you covered.   The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibition The Medici: Portraits & Politics, 1512-1570  introduced us to the fashions and machinations of the…

Old Masters Today #4

Back from an unplanned summer hiatus, a bimonthly irreverent take on the market for Old Masters, essential events, and generally absurd artworld adjacent news. HIGHLIGHTS You don’t need me to reproduce Leonardo’s drawing of Head of a Bear (which yes, objectively, £ 8.86 million seems like a lot, but it is well within the original estimate of £ 8 – 12 million) or…

Slavery: Ten True Stories at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

The Rijksmuseum’s long-awaited exhibition “Slavery: Ten True Stories” is a project about people, not least among them the visitors who traverse the eleven galleries where the show unfolds. To experience the exhibition is to meet constantly with one’s own image: in every room, mirrored walls and display cases incorporate the person who sees, reads, and…

The Director’s Choice: National Gallery, London

In keeping with the present spirit of virtual tours and online events, the National Gallery in London offered a unique recasting of its collection whilst its doors were closed to the public. The Director’s Choice originated from a series of weekly emails from the Gallery’s Director, Dr. Gabriele Finaldi, to their supporters in which individual…

Old Masters Today #3

A monthly column featuring mostly lowbrow auction highlights and essential Old Masters news and events. HIGHLIGHTS Originally commissioned by Alfonso I d’Este (1476-1534), this panel (right) was sold at Christie’s and has an absolutely illustrious provenance worth a click to the lot description. The frieze corresponds to a painting at the National Gallery of Art…

After Michelangelo, Past Picasso: Leo Steinberg’s Library of Prints

Clio and Diderot attend (virtually) an exhibition featuring the extensive print collection of the legendary Leo Steinberg at the Blanton Museum, Austin. Having recently visited a few other digital shows, what are your thoughts about the format of this online exhibition?   Diderot: In terms of format, this was the most similar to the MSK’s Van…

April Book Club Selection : Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

Welcome to the Ars Longa book club! Each month, we’ll read something–a novel, a book of poetry, a work of creative nonfiction–that touches upon Early Modern themes. Book Club books are strictly non-academic. This is a space to unwind and explore creative approaches to the past. This April, join the Ars Longa book club as…